I’d lost my faith in God at the age of 14, but my fascination with miracles, stigmata and other paranormal phenomena didn’t go away; if anything, I only became more fascinated and obsessed with the occult. I read everything I could get my hands on to further my knowledge of the occult, and I began dabbling in fortune-telling – reading palms, using playing cards to read people’s fortunes, scrying in glasses of water.
It came to a head when my mother and I were called into the headmaster’s office; the headmaster wanted me to see a child psychologist, but my mother refused. Instead, she made me promise to give up fortune-telling until I was 16, to which I agreed.
I didn’t tell her about the gypsy friend I was hanging out with though… or about her grandmother, who was a gypsy mystic who introduced me to the tarot and to the Romany ways of magic. But she wouldn’t take me on as an apprentice, because I was not “of the People”. She said I had to find my own people, whoever they might be. So I turned back to my books.
I started to meet more of “my people” after I’d left school; in time, I became an Alexandrian Wiccan (my mother still pretty much oblivious) – about the same time as my younger brother and sisters started going to a local youth club run in the local Christadelphian hall. As the eldest, I was expected to go along to keep an eye on them; I was 17 at the time. Before each youth club session, there would be a bible study session; and they were using the same Hamlyn Children’s Bible so beloved of my during my childhood. In a short space of time I went from taking the group with others my age, to teaching a group myself – effectively a sunday school teacher in all but name, whilst being a practicing Wiccan!
Humorous though the situation may have seemed to a 17-year-old, there was a definite conflict of interest going on however, and in time I was asked to leave until I had figured out for myself just what I believed in. They were wiser than I was.
Issues of theology took a back seat when I got pregnant at age 19 however; I didn’t have time for running around with covens (I had told my mother I was off playing RPGs such as D&D) with a small baby to look after. However, being a mother at a young age brought its own challenges; I suffered badly from post-natal depression which only worsened when, following our divorce, my ex-husband and I reconciled and had another child a couple of years later.
PND heralded the onset of what later came to be diagnosed as bipolar disorder; this also coincided with what in time would prove to be an ongoing spiritual crisis.
Over the next ten years, I was to find myself swinging regularly between devout Paganism and newfound Christianity, never fully comfortable with either.